Angela’s Story: The moment your world falls apart is one you never forget. It feels as if everything has stopped, and then there is a tiny moment of hope when you pray that it’s all a bad dream. I stared at the screen willing our baby to move, to make a sign to show he or she was alive, to prove the sonographer wrong. But there was no movement, no heartbeat. Our baby had died just three days earlier, at 7 weeks and 5 days. I had lost my baby. Days became weeks, weeks became months and the tears continued. There was a hole in my heart and a piece of me missing. I suddenly seemed to be surrounded by babies, and every time I heard of a friend having their 12-week scan it felt like a knife through my heart.
Daniel (15 years old): I was 11 years old when my parents divorced at the same time as starting senior school. It was a horrible time for me as I also started getting bullied online. I had so many difficult emotions and didn’t know what to do with them, where to go for help. At times the pain was so unbearable that the only way to let my emotions out was to cut the back of my legs with a razor. I felt less stressed after doing this and would begin to feel less angry. But those feelings would come back again quickly. Finding healthy ways to express my emotions has helped me to stop self-harming but I am now left with scars that are a constant reminder.
Sammy: After being five years in a job I really loved I was made redundant. It has been really hard to find work over the past year and I have found myself feeling depressed. My self-esteem has been low and I have lost all confidence in trying to get back into work. Sometimes it has been difficult to get out of bed in the morning and I have lost interest in all my relationships. My family are finding it hard to know how to spend time to me and they are finding this really difficult. It is having a strain on my marriage and I don’t know how much longer I can take not being in work and not feeling able to provide for my family.
Imelda’s story: I came to England from Poland 50 years ago after a difficult time in my country in the war. I have had a good life in this country, but now I am finding that most of my friends and family members have died or moved away. I miss a sense of community and spend a lot of time on my own. Sometimes it so difficult to think about cooking for myself and so easy to not bother – it’s too much effort. Life feels so lonely and yet I used to love chatting with people, sharing stories and a cuppa. It’s so sad to know that so many of my generation are in the same position with no one to turn to and days without seeing anyone but people on the television.
Melissa’s story: When my son, Tom, was 8 months old I remembers thinking, ‘”I don’t know who you are, I don’t know what you are and I don’t know what to do with you.” I’d pick him up if he cried, but I couldn’t play with him or interact.’ Despite wanting Tom and in a happy relationship with my husband, I found myself living out the ultimate taboo. I was a new mother who couldn’t bond with my child. From the moment that blue line appears on the pregnancy testing kit, expectant mothers are bombarded with messages all telling the same tale: that as soon as they hold their new-born child they’ll experience a deep, unconditional love. So powerful is this love that it will make any monotony, isolation and exhaustion they may encounter on their journey into motherhood worthwhile. While that love usually does take hold and a deep bond develops between most new mothers and their babies, it is certainly not a given. There are many women who have feelings of indifference, ambivalence or even dislike for their child, but they rarely admit it for fear of seeming ‘unnatural’ or inadequate. This was my experience.